Graphic Design & Illustration

Comics

Comix Blog #2

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Why a Vietnam war comic?

It seems like every 3-6 months I have an idea for a comic story. They always seem exciting at first, but most of them never amount to anything but scribbles on a post-it note or a paragraph in a soon-to-be-forgotten google doc. Occasionally, the idea will stick with me for months. These are the ideas that I make sure to save. Last year I was watching the Ken Burns Vietnam War documentary, where they mentioned a group of soldiers known as Tiger Force that went rogue in Vietnam and started indiscriminately killing civilians and committing countless war crimes. It was only 5 minutes in am 18 hour documentary series, but it was the spark of an idea. For me, Tiger Force was a microcosm of the entire conflict. I followed up the Ken Burns documentary with Peter Davis’ documentary “Hearts and Minds”, the book “Kill Anything That Moves” by Nick Turse, and of course “Tiger Force” by Michael Sallah and Mitch Weiss. The common thread in all of this media was the idea that the Vietnam war was not something that just happened to America, it was the logical result of bad ideology, racism, and colonialism. The more I dig into the true story of the Tigers, the more it seems to support this idea. Grimm subject matter for sure, but it’s fascinating to me. I also feel like it’s an idea that hasn’t been explored very well in narrative stories about Vietnam.

I want to explore where the Tigers came from, and why some of them did what they did. Comics strangely felt like the perfect medium for that. The single issue format allows for exploration of back story and shifts in perspective from one issue to the next. Most Vietnam stories are movies that place an emphasis on the warfare, but a decompressed comic series can take the time to portray the monotony  of the Vietnam War, and the effect it had on the civilians, farmers, and regular people who didn’t really care about political ideology. Comics have a rich tradition of War comics, but the genre has slowly faded away with only a few creators like Garth Ennis putting out War comics regularly. It’s a genre I would like to see more of.